Govt departments should do more to support teenage mothers - Community activist

ActionAid South Africa is part of a global movement working to strengthen human rights and eradicate poverty in their communities.

It's also partnering with international sponsor, Comic Relief on the I Define Me project.

In the LeadSA interivew, project manager Judy Kennedy tells Africa Melane about the initiative, which works with young girls affected by violence in Cape Town's Bonteheuwel and Beacon Valley in Mitchell’s Plain.

Whether that's gang violence or gender-based violence, to us in Cape Town that's every girl on the streets of Cape Town - every young person, every young girl, is affected by violence.

Judy Kennedy, Project manager - ActionAid South Africa

What we've been doing in Cape Town, we've recruited a group of girls from the various schools in the two communities we work with... for us it's important that the girls choose to be part of the project.

Judy Kennedy, Project manager - ActionAid South Africa

Kennedy says they have a three-pronged focus: personal development, the issues young people face and how to challenge those in power to support them.

However, this can be an uphill battle. She refers to an event organised for Youth Day on June 16, when the Education Department cancelled at the last minute.

Kennedy says her project is currently the one providing teenage mothers with support in the communities it services.

Read: Teenage pregnancy in SA 'systemic', with no decline in numbers since 1998

She feels the Education and Health Departments should be partnering with relevant bodies and organisations to come up with a plan to help these young girls.

There's no forum where the Education Department, the Health Department, SAPS... Social Development, sit around a table and say, this is the plan and whose responsibility becomes what.

Judy Kennedy, Project manager - ActionAid South Africa

The Education Department says young girls who are pregnant can come back to school after giving birth and so what would be the kind of support the Education Department would provide, because currently there is no support provided.

Judy Kennedy, Project manager - ActionAid South Africa

It's a big transition from being a schoolgirl to being a young mother.

Judy Kennedy, Project manager - ActionAid South Africa

The parents are not necessarily hands-on or even interested in what happens to these young girls - (they need) some kind of support base.

Judy Kennedy, Project manager - ActionAid South Africa

To find out more about the work the project is doing, go to http://south-africa.actionaid.org/.

Listen to the conversation with Kennedy below:


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